We were at a new Home Dog Training client last week in Dahlonega working with her and her French Bulldog, Sammy. Sammy had some issues with not listening, loving to jump on everybody, and having a hard time walking on the leash. We had a great session and Sammy really began to focus and listen to our client. She was very excited about that and looked forward to having a really good dog. During our conversation, she mentioned that a lot of the problem with Sammy was that her husband just let him jump all over him and it seems that Sammy can always get her husband to pet him, get up and give him a treat, or play ball whenever Sammy wanted. She knew that he might be a big problem, but was going to work on him. She was sure that “the human” was the biggest problem she would have to tackle. Yesterday our client called with a question. She said that her husband was still letting Sammy get away with whatever he wanted, although he was great with her and the kids. Was this going to be a problem and how should she deal with this?
Although it might be hard to believe, we have found that this situation happens far more often than one might expect. There is one family member that is the “happy playmate” and just doesn’t want to correct wrong behavior. The problem that most families make when this occurs is to try to force the “happy playmate (human)” into being a teacher and enforcer of rules instead of what he (or she) really wants to be.
We need to understand that Sammy does not naturally identify us as leaders or peers. He identifies us (humans) by the way that we communicate and socialize with him. Just as in the case of a family with multiple dogs, there are always leaders and peers among the group of dogs. If we are consistent in our correction of rules and praise of success, Sammy will identify us as leaders and provide us with focus and respect. If we allow Sammy to tell us what do to and provide him with focus, we are telling him that we are not leaders and do not require his focus and respect; we are simply a peer.
It is obvious that my client’s husband just wants to be a playmate and not take responsibility for correction and leadership. He needs to consistently portray that to Sammy and allow my client to correct without interference from him. So, what does this mean?
The husband can come home and allow Sammy to run and jump on him. He can play with Sammy and be his best buddy. He cannot correct Sammy for any bad behavior that the rest of the family (the leaders) has determined to be a break of the rules. If Sammy breaks a rule, the husband (in his role of playmate) must simply ignore the action. It is not his place to correct Sammy in the relationship that they have undertaken.
Whenever Sammy breaks a rule, the rest of the family must correct immediately and consistently. Even if Sammy is engaging in a “breaking of a rule” with my client’s husband, they must correct. They are the enforcers and it is their job to correct. This sends a clear and consistent signal to Sammy regarding the roles of everyone in the household and clearly points out that the husband’s lack of correction does not undermine the integrity of the rest of the family (being the leaders).
The best way that I explained this to my client was to have her think of her husband as “just another dog in the family”. If Sammy is doing something bad and breaking a rule, she does not expect the other dog to correct and does not correct the other dog for Sammy’s breaking of the rule. She corrects Sammy and ignores the other dog.
So, as long as my client’s husband “goes his merry way” and just plays with Sammy and allows the rest of the family to correct, everything will be just fine. What he can’t do is to challenge their correction; because that is not his place and not the role he has accepted.
Sometimes family members are the hardest to train. Providing a consistency in roles, leadership or peer, is critical in proper dog training.
Please call us at (770) 718-7704 it you are in need of any dog training help. We have a lot of good dog training advice at Best Dog Trainers Dahlonega Georgia. Find all our phone numbers, text addresses and email contacts at Dog Training Help Center Dahlonega Georgia.